Lady Cavs advance to state championship
Published 1:21 pm Friday, November 15, 2013
The Lakeland High School field hockey team is one game away from the perfect ending to a perfect season.
The Lady Cavaliers defeated The James Monroe High School 2-1 in the Virginia High School League Group 4A state semifinal on Friday morning at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach.
“It’s pretty cool,” Lakeland head coach Tara Worley said of making it back to the state championship game. “Some people never get to experience it, and I’m going to get to experience it twice. I’m definitely blessed.”
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Five players on the present squad took to the field four years ago as freshmen on the 2010 Lakeland team that won the state title. Now Alexis and Jamee Albright, Summer Parker, Kasey Smith and Kristen Vick will get the chance to finish high school the way they started.
Parker was excited about returning to the title game.
“It feels great,” she said shortly after the semifinal. “I can’t wait to come out here and play tomorrow.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets did not make the journey there easy.
“They were a lot like Tabb in the aspect that they were fast,” Parker said. She said playing Tabb the week prior in the regional championship game was good preparation, forcing Lakeland to step up its game.
In a strange way, the Lady Cavaliers created another obstacle for themselves on Friday. Senior forward Kiersten King scored less than two minutes into the game off of an assist by senior midfielder Megan Smith.
Worley said sometimes getting a quick goal like that can give a false sense of how the game is going to go. Lakeland did not fall prey to this overconfidence, though.
“I was proud of them for continuing to fight,” Worley said. “It was literally a battle.”
Midway through the first half, Parker scored her goal via an assist by senior forward Jessie Cox.
But James Monroe responded with 3:37 to go when senior midfielder/back Hannah Fisher scored on a penalty corner, assisted by sophomore midfielder Catesby Willis.
The Lady Yellow Jackets definitely had their opportunities, but Lakeland had more. It just struggled to capitalize on them. Worley complimented her opponent.
“I thought that they played well defensively in their circle,” she said. “We had a hard time finishing.”
The Lady Cavs ended up with 15 penalty corners to James Monroe’s three and held an 11-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Parker had a chance to put some distance on the scoreboard when Lakeland was awarded a penalty stroke with 13:17 to go, but her shot was wide left with some help from the Lady Yellow Jackets’ goalkeeper.
The Lady Cavaliers were able to use their ability to control possession to great effect near the end of the game. Five straight penalty corners helped drain the last minutes off the clock without giving James Monroe’s offense a chance to score.
After the game, Worley’s thoughts turned to today’s match-up.
“We’ve got to improve on the things that we struggled on today, and we’ve got to play for 60 minutes,” she said.
Lakeland (22-0) will play for the state championship today against Chancellor High School, which defeated Tabb High School 3-1 in the other semifinal game. The game begins at 10 a.m. at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach.